Nurses post startling examples of what being 'recovered' from COVID-19 can look like
Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Despite the fact that the U.S. has apparently tossed up its hands in resignation and decided that coronavirus was so last month, we are still in the middle of a global pandemic. More than 110,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 in just the past three months. We have 5% of the world's population and a whopping 25% of the world's COVID-19 cases and deaths. (Is this the "so much winning "we were supposed to get tired of?)

The death toll is harrowing enough. but what we don't hear about as much is what happens to the people who get sick with COVID-19 and don't die. Once a person's symptoms have begun improving and they test negative twice for the virus, they are considered "recovered." But that's not even close to the whole story for many who wage a weeks- or months-long battle with this illness.

A nurse shared on Twitter how "recovered" doesn't mean what many of us think. Cherie Antoinette wrote:


"COVID 19 is the worst disease process I've ever worked with in my 8 years as an ICU nurse. When they say 'recovered' they don't tell you that that means you may need a lung transplant. Or that you may come back after d/c with a massive heart attack or stroke bc COVID makes your blood thick as hell. Or that you may have to be on oxygen for the rest of your life. COVID is designed to kill. It is a highly intelligent virus and it attacks everything. We will run out of resources if we don't continue to flatten the curve. I'm exhausted."

Another nurse chimed in about her own experience of catching the virus and how it impacted her at 24 years old.

"I am a nurse on a COVID floor, I caught it. I am a relatively healthy and could barely walk up a half flight of stairs. My blood pressure skyrocketed, chest pain was debilitating. I'm eight weeks out and still feeling the chest pain and shortness of breath. This is no joke," she wrote.

Other people added their own experiences:

"I'm just getting over a "mild" case after over two months. There's scarring in my lower right lung and my stomach and digestion are a mess like never before. But I'm coughing way less and can take walks again.

And, by the way, this is the third time in two months that I've 'gotten better'. I'm just hoping it's the last and it doesn't all come back AGAIN."

Many people report severe, lasting fatigue that lingers and returns in waves.

More nurses added to the chorus of those saying that what they've seen as they treat patients is downright scary.


And some are describing lasting symptoms even with cases that were considered "mild" or "moderate."

Cherie Antoinette responded to a woman who said she'd gone into acute kidney failure and acquired asthma, chronic cough and an irregular heartbeat, saying that most of her patients had the same issues. "I am traumatized working in this environment," she wrote.

She also shared a tweet she'd written back in March saying that people needed to be more concerned about the flu. After two months treating COVID patients, she's changed her tune.

It's true that many people either don't get symptoms or do get truly mild cases. But none of us knows how it's going to affect us. And because we don't get to go to COVID units or people's homes after they leave the hospital, we don't see how difficult many people's recoveries are or how long-lasting the impact can be.

As one healthcare worker wrote: "Without people actually seeing these scenes they honestly just don't believe it. The public believes as a whole that this only kills old people with heart problems or big complications."

Indeed, there's a whole lot of misinformation about the virus still floating around, from "it's no worse than the flu" to "it's all planned by Big Pharma and Bill Gates." Someone even asked Antoinette who paid her, as if the countless stories we're seeing from doctors, nurses and patients who have had first-hand experience with this virus are being paid to push an agenda. (Insert world's biggest eye roll here).

Some responded that most people do not have severe symptoms and chastised the nurse for fear-mongering. But it's not fear-mongering to state the truth that many people will suffer greatly from this disease, even if they don't die from it. It's not fear-mongering to point out that there's still so much that we don't know about how the virus works and why it ravages some people's bodies while leaving others virtually unscathed. It's not fear-mongering to share accounts from the front line workers who are the only ones who can tell us what COVID-19 is capable of.

We all need to continue to be diligent and careful, as the pandemic hasn't gone anywhere. As businesses and communities keep opening up, we still need to wear masks in public spaces, keep our distance from others as much as possible and take the virus seriously.

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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